* Praise be to God, Lord of the worlds,
2 Praise translates al-ḥamd, which indicates extolling the Praiseworthy (maḥmūd) and giving thanks to Him for all of the favors He has bestowed in this world and for the reward that will be given in the next world. In this vein, the Prophet is reported to have said, “When you say, ‘Praise be to God, Lord of the worlds,’ you will have thanked God and He will increase your bounty” (Ṭ). But whereas thanks (shukr) is given for what one has already received, praise is given for the qualities the One Who is praised possesses prior to having bestowed anything and is thus more universal (Q). Praise (al-ḥamd) is rendered in the definite rather than the indefinite to indicate that all forms of praise and all gratitude belong to God (Ṭ). It is said that God has praised Himself in this opening address so that human beings can praise God in the speech of God, since God knows that they cannot praise Him fully in their own words (Qu). Regarding the inability of human beings to praise God fully, the Prophet is reported to have addressed God, saying, “There is no way to enumerate the praise due to Thee; Thou art as Thou hast praised Thyself” (Qu).
Similar to the basmalah, Praise be to God is a frequently repeated formula recited by Muslims on many occasions throughout their daily lives. But whereas the basmalah is employed to consecrate a deed at its beginning, Praise be to God is employed to thank God for an act or event upon its completion. According to traditional Islamic etiquette, whenever one is asked how one is feeling, the correct response should be Praise be to God, no matter one’s condition.
Reference is made to God as Lord throughout the Quran and as Lord of the worlds some forty-two times. Lord renders rabb, which refers to a master who is obeyed (sayyid), to one who puts matters in their proper order, and to one who possesses something. In reference to God it thus means that He is the Master without peer, Who arranges the affairs of all His creatures and to Whom all of creation belongs (Ṭ). Some also relate Lord (rabb) to “cultivation” (tarbiyah), since God is the Caretaker (murabbī) of all things as well as the Trainer and Caretaker of our souls, hearts, and spirits (Qu).
The worlds refers to various levels of cosmic existence and the communities of beings within each level. Some say it refers to four communities: human beings, jinn, angels, and satans (Q), while others say it refers only to human beings and jinn, since the Prophet is referred to as a warner unto the worlds (25:1), and only jinn and human beings are in need of a warner (Q). It may also refer to the different generations of human beings, to all of the species in creation (Q, Ṭ), or to God’s being the Sovereign over every level of creation from the earth through the seven heavens, as in those verses that refer to God as Lord of the heavens and the earth (13:16; 17:102; 18:14; 19:65; 21:56; 26:24; 37:5; 38:66; 43:82; 44:7; 78:37). Thus some say that in the most universal sense the worlds refers to all existent things other than God (IK, Q). In this vein, the commentator Fakhr al-Dīn al-Rāzī notes that there is infinite space beyond this world and that God can actualize all possibilities, even worlds and universes of which we have no knowledge. The verse thus refers to God being the Lord of all that can be seen or imagined and of all that cannot be seen or imagined by human beings. In this sense, the verse conveys that God is Lord of all “space,” not only physical space, and therefore of all that exists, no matter what the nature of that existence may be. For this reason, there is no thing, save that it hymns His praise (17:44).